(Takayo Hashi vs. Chisa Yonezawa @ GCM Valkyrie 2, 4/25/09)
After putting on the biggest women’s fight in history last year, Strikeforce is preparing to build women’s MMA even larger. According to a recent press release, Sarah Kaufman and Takayo Hashi will battle for the promotion’s first women’s 135-pound title at a Strikeforce Challengers event scheduled for February 26th at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose; tickets are on sale right now.
With a perfect record of 10-0 (eight via TKO), the hard-hitting Kaufman is one of the world’s best female fighters, and has been gaining recognition in Strikeforce thanks to the dominant decision victories she scored over Miesha Tate and Shayna Baszler in 2009. Takayo Hashi (12-1; 4 wins by submission, 8 by unanimous decision) has competed primarily in Japan, where she was one of the standouts of the SmackGirl promotion. Hashi most recently choked out Chisa Yonezawa at a GCM Valkyrie event last April, and avenged her only loss to Hitomi Akano in 2007. She’s known primarily as a grappler, while Kaufman is known primarily for beating the crap out of grapplers.
Due to blatant sexism, the 2/26 Strikeforce card will officially be headlined by a middleweight match between Trevor Prangley (22-5) and Karl Amoussou (11-2-1); the event will also feature another middleweight matchup pitting Luke Rockhold (6-1) against Paul Bradley (12-1), and a welterweight contest between San Jose native James Terry (7-1) and Tarec Saffiedine (7-2).
In order to develop worthy challengers in the 135- and 145-pound women’s divisions, Strikeforce will launch separate eight-woman tournaments, which will kick off at their Challengers event in April. These tournaments were originally supposed to happen late last year, but things piled up: "With the Fedor (Emelianenko) deal, the (Dan) Henderson deal, the EA deal, we just started getting bombarded with these large acquisitions and transactions,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. “The female tournaments kept getting pushed back, which is fine, because we wanted time to get them right.”